The oh so pretty French town of Grasse, just north of Cannes and an easy drive from Nice, is an incredibly popular day trip destination for those holidaying in the French Riviera region, also known as the Côte d'Azur.
Grasse is a lovely small city of about 50,000 people and it sits up in the hills, inland from the Mediterranean. It has a microclimate ideal for growing flowers. This is one of the reasons it became known as the perfume capital of the world.
Things have not always smelt so delightful in Grasse. Until the 18th century, Grasse was a hub of leather tanneries, and these are not, shall we say, aromatic. Leather gloves were all the rage with fashion-loving aristocrats, and there was a huge demand for leather goods.
Unfortunately the leather gloves were not so aromatic so a tanner in Grasse, Jean de Galimard, created a leather scent of rose water and spices and the perfume industry in Grasse was born.
THINGS TO DO
Get Lost in the Old Town
In any small historic centre in an old European town, our best advice is to simply get lost and see where you end up. Rue Jean Ossola is the main street of the old town, from which various small and character filled laneways and stairways lead off, but don't miss a walk from Place Aux Aires down the sloping Rue Amiral de Grasse. Have fun indulging in a little retail therapy at the quirky artisan shops, antique dealers, and clothes stores. It is difficult to resist!
Make Your Own Perfume
Discover the know-how of the perfumers; Become a 'nose' (perfumer), a dream job!
In one of Grasse’s historic perfumeries such as Fragonard, Galimard or Molinard, learn about the work of the 'nose'. Learn how to smell, mix different oils and scents and produce a fragrance. You can also receive the advice of an expert to make your own perfume. These fabulous workshops are usually completed by a guided tour of the factory. An unforgettable sensorial experience in Grasse, both fun and something memorable!
Visit the International Perfume Museum
A museum where you can discover every step of the creation of a perfume, from the raw materials to the design, mass production and innovation. Discover the mystery of Chanel No. 5 and many other famous fragrances! Opened in 1989, it’s dedicated to safeguarding and promoting the international heritage of scents. That’s how important the perfume industry is to Grasse, and in this sleek modern building you can delve into over 3,000 years of perfume history, and smell a few petals at the rooftop garden.
While you’re there, look out for Marie Antoinette’s travel toiletry set and perfume bottles from ancient Egypt!
Discover the Hillside Villages
In the Middle Ages, farmers built their houses high up and surrounded by walls to protect themselves from invasions. Among others, Gourdon, Auribeau, Bar-sur-Loup, Opio, Châteauneuf, Spéracèdes and Cabris there are lots of authentic villages to discover, and so many breathtaking panoramas. The detour to the village of Gourdon, proudly standing atop a rocky outcrop and ranked among the most beautiful villages in France, is one of the must-see places to visit. Get your camera ready!
Escape in the Perfumed Flower Fields
Between the sea and mountains, discover all of Grasse’s biodiversity. Lower down, mimosa and orange blossom. At 300 meters, jasmine and lilies and at the top of the hills, iris and violets and wild plants such as lavender and broom. This is an environment perfect for exclusive research and development programs. Discover the perfume plants at Domaine de Manon, 10 minutes from Grasse (booking required). Visit the fields of centifolia roses (May to mid-June) or jasmine (August to October).
You can visit Grasse at any time of the year and a day trip is enough. It is incredibly beautiful and the cultivated flowers of Grasse have attracted many great perfumers and we are proud that our candles are produced in this amazing place known as the perfume capital of the world.